‘We want to go beyond the headlines’: Channel 4 tackles stop and search in new documentary

A new documentary from Channel 4, fronted by ex-footballer Jermaine Jenas, will explore the police’s controversial Stop and Search policy.

The Truth About Police Stop and Search will put this often divisive aspect of modern policing under the microscope, featuring the experiences of approximately 40 Black men and teenagers who used cameras to record their experiences of Stop and Search across England and to see how their interactions with the police play out.

In England and Wales, Black men are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white men.

Documentary creators have said they want to help the British public understand the full scale of the issue, and its wide reaching social, psychological and personal consequences.

Describing the importance of the documentary, Jermaine Jenas said: “This film is really important to me, I wanted the viewer at home to gain some understanding of what life is like for a young Black man dealing with the police. 

“I hope these stories will help paint that picture and highlight the day to day struggle and mental health difficulties that are being put on one community because of Stop & Search. I’m hoping for change.”

Research shows that black people living in the UK are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than a white person.

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Jenas, a former Newcastle and Tottenham player, retired from the sport in 2009. He then transitioned into media work for the BBC’s Match of the Day, BT Sport and started co-presenting The One Show  last year.

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The sportsman – who’s mixed race – has previously addressed topical issues affected young people and Black communities.

In 2019, Jenas returned to the city of his birth for the BBC Three documentary Teenage Knife Wars to investigate why knife crime in the area increased.

The 38-year-old recounted his own experience of knife crime, describing how he had been mugged at knife point at the age of 19.

In January, he spoke about racism in football during an interview with BBC 5 Live.

(Channel 4)

This week, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) warned of the damaging effect distrust in British policing in black communities is having on the effectiveness of law enforcement.

Martin Hewitt said trust and confidence in policing was 20 per cent lower in the black population compared with the average, as he highlighted the need to boost the number of black recruits in police forces.

Speaking to The Guardian, he added trust and confidence in the police was important for people to come forward and report crime and engage with officers, and could also lead to “young black men and women saying I’m prepared to go and become a police officer”.

British police have been heavily criticised over the years over its disproportionate use of powers, such as stop and search and use of force, on black and ethnic minority people.

The Truth About Police Stop and Search was commissioned by Siobhan Sinnerton, Channel 4 Current Affairs Editor, and overseen by Steve Boulton.

Scheduled for broadcast on 12 April, it will be made by Flicker Productions, executive produced by Colleen Flynn and directed by Jasleen Kaur Sethi.

Ms Flynn said: “We wanted to go beyond the news headlines and document how stop and search is affecting so many men, women and families across the country, and with Jermaine at the helm ask the audience to reflect on and understand the everyday scrutiny black men find themselves under”.



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